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Evaluating lessons

‘Evaluation is the process whereby you start to look critically and analytically at a lesson and pupils’ learning and start to make some judgements about the quality of the lesson.’

Biddulph et al (2021)

Topics on this page:

Reflecting on lessons and the Teachers’ Standards | What should my lesson evaluation include? | Reading | Reflection activity: Take a broader look at your geography teaching


When you have taught a lesson, you should think carefully about evaluation. It can be useful to jot down immediately some action points of things you must remember to do arising from the lesson e.g. find out about … A little later, after you have had time to reflect, comment on the things that went well and not so well, both in terms of your teaching and the students’ learning. Using a template such as A form to record lesson reflections will help you to focus on the learning of individuals.

Reflecting on lessons and the Teachers’ Standards

Note that it is part of the Teachers’ Standards requirements that ‘A teacher must reflect systematically on the effectiveness of lessons and approaches to teaching’. To achieve this securely you must regularly, and frequently, complete detailed reflective evaluations of your teaching. 

Make sure you complete some evaluations for a series of lessons, so that you have an opportunity to reflect on students’ learning and your teaching of a class over several weeks. Some providers ask trainee teachers to keep a diary or journal with their reflections of teaching and learning with all their classes.

What should my lesson evaluation include?

1. An evaluation of students’ learning in the lesson

Ask yourself whether the learning objectives were achieved and how secure is the students’ understanding of the geographical content taught. Did any misconceptions occur? Did ALL students make progress in their learning and how successful were the learning activities in achieving this? 

Evaluate anything that did not go as well as you hoped and try to understand why that was. You need to consider whether there are any aspects of learning you might need to revisit next lesson.

2. A review of your planning

Consider whether your lesson objectives were the right ones and if the lesson structure worked as you wanted. Did you achieve everything you planned to do? Did the start of the lesson grab student’s interest and the lesson content maintain this? Were the resources effective? On reflection, did you choose the best teaching strategy and learning activities for this geography topic with this class?

3. A self-evaluation of your teaching

Overall, you should evaluate how effective your teaching was in the lesson and what you might need to improve on. Consider your explanations, instructions, questioning and monitoring of learning. Did this go as well as you wanted it to?

 If not, what do you need to do? Consider too how well you carried out scaffolding, retrieval practice and assessment? Did you manage the lesson effectively – the learning activities, groups, interventions to support students and check understanding? Consider critically if you catered for ALL students effectively or could you do better? In general, was your teaching of this lesson more/less successful that other classes – and why?

4. An evaluation of the geography teaching

Reflect on the purpose of the geography content of the lesson, whether it was appropriate for the class and whether the geographical learning was achieved as you had hoped. 

Did the lesson progress students’ learning? Was the content too challenging, or not challenging enough? Were you confident in your subject knowledge about this geography topic or do you need to do something about this? Did the students ask you any interesting or difficult questions? What did you learn about possible misconceptions in this topic? Did they find the topic interesting in the way you had presented it? 

Above all consider whether you encouraged students to think geographically and progress their understanding of key geographical concepts and skills in the way you taught the lesson.

5. Future actions

Finally think about where you go next, with this topic and class. Are there teaching points you need to revisit? Is there unfinished work to complete?


  • Biddulph, M., Lambert, D. and Balderstone, D. (2021), Learning to Teach Geography in the Secondary School: A Companion to School Experience, 4th edition, Abingdon: Routledge, pp 90-3.

 Reflection activity: Take a broader look at your geography teaching

Every so often you should stand back and critically evaluate your geography teaching in the round, not just on the basis of one lesson.